Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Curious Komainu


While heading north across the coastal plain north of Yatsushiro I stopped in at about a dozen small shrines. They were mostly very small, local shrines, none of them famous. As usual when visiting shrines I look around for anything unusual or out of the ordinary. As always I am looking for diversity. What I did discover were these curious Komainu that shared some stylistic similarity with each other but were quite different from other styles I have seen.

The first is a wooden komainu inside a zuijinmon. Wooden komainu were the original style and can still be found inside gates or inside shrines buildings. The other 4 photos are two pairs I found at two different shrines.

Unusually the first pair both seem to have closed mouths. One of each of the two pairs were raised up on their front legs, the other laying down..

Over the twenty years I have been visiting shrines I have seen a lot of new komainu placed in shrines. mostly they are of one specific design and so are exactly the same from one end of the country to the other. It saddens me that diversity is being lost, slowly but surely, to be replaced with national homogenity.